The Double Effect Of Fish Oil: Does Fish Oil Cause Acne – Or Cure Breakouts?

If you’re looking for a health supplement that can give you a handful of benefits, then fish oil is one of your best options. It can help with diabetes, ADHD and even those pesky joint problems.

But when it comes to acne, there are actually conflicting results.

Some people claim that fish oil helped with their breakouts while there are also women who argue that the supplement made their acne worse. If you are new to taking supplements, these statements can be quite confusing.

Does fish oil cause acne or can it make your skin stop from breaking out?

The Truth About Fish Oil And Acne

Fish oil typically comes from the tissues of fatty fishes, like salmon, cod and tuna. You can buy it in capsules and in liquid form.

Research tells that fish oil, with its omega 3 fatty acids, can protect you from around 37 health problems- and that can include acne.

How Can Fish Oil Help With Your Breakouts

Taking fish oil or omega-3 fatty acids won’t kill the acne-causing bacteria on your skin. It can’t also help you remove those dark and annoying acne spots on your face.

But it can help tame your hormonal issues, which is actually great if you have PCOS or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. It’s a condition where your hormones get out of whack.

One particular study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that increasing your fish oil or omega 3 fatty acid intake can bring down your androgen hormones. That means your acne, too.

Excessive androgen, including testosterone, is notorious for triggering too much sebum production and decreasing its level would only mean less chances of clogged pores and breaking out.

Aside from its effect on your hormones, fish oil is also widely known for its anti-inflammatory property. Its effects, however, are determined by your body’s omega 3/ omega 6 ratio.

What’s with omega 3 and omega 6?

You can think of these fatty acids as opposite poles.

Omega 3 fatty acids, as I’ve mentioned, have anti-inflammatory properties. Omega 6, on the other hand, can trigger an inflammatory response in your body.

However, although they differ in their reactions, both of these acids require the same enzymes to get metabolized. Simply put, they compete inside your body.

When you have more omega 6 fatty acids, it means that you have lower omega 3 and more chances of breaking out.

How Does Fish Oil Cause Acne

Although increasing your omega 3 fatty acid intake can help you lower your inflammation, too much of everything is still bad.

As both omega 3 and 6 fatty acids fall under polyunsaturated fats, they are a lot more reactive than you think they are. When oxidized, for example, they can easily break and cause free radical damage in your cells.

And this effect isn’t limited to one particular area or part of your body. When these acids get broken down by oxidation, they cause a series oxidation of other polyunsaturated fats in your body.

The result is oxidative stress and a lot of acne patients have them.

Should You Supplement With Fish Oil?

If you have moderate acne or if you suffer from PCOS and other hormone imbalances, I suggest you do. Fish oil supplements have been found helpful in improving moderate to severe acne.

Another study even showed how omega 3 supplements can reduce acne by as much as 42%.

But, if the idea of putting your body at risk of oxidative stress, there’s actually a better way to lower your body’s inflammatory fatty acids. And that involves decreasing your omega 6 intake.

Now, that is the tricky part. Considering how today’s diet is loaded with omega 6, you have to be extra cautious of the food or oil you consume.

Rich sources of omega 6 fatty acid include:

  • Walnut oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Cottonseed oil
  • Salad dressings
  • Process foods

Adding Fish Oil To Your Diet

You can add fish oil to your diet by consuming fatty and oily fishes. Fresh-water and salt-water fishes are your best choices because they contain a load of essential fatty acids.

Fishes, on their own, don’t generally synthesize omega-3 fatty acids. Instead, they receive them through the algae and plankton they consume.

Because of how dependent they are on their food supply, knowing where these fishes come from is also essential for your safety. Fatty fishes can have a high amount of heavy metals, such as mercury, that can poison you in the long run.

Aside from heavy metals, these fishes can also be exposed to fat-soluble pollutants, like tetraethyllead compounds.

You can also increase your omega 3 fatty acids by taking fish oil supplements. Technically, supplements are considered a better option since they can help you get the right amount of essential fatty acids without the risk of toxicity.

But before you go ahead and buy a fish oil supplement, it’s important for you to know that the quality of the supplement you’ll get is critical. Some fish oil supplements are already rancid before they are even bought from the store.

Once they become rancid, they can pose a lot of health problems for you, such as abnormal blood clotting and hardening of the walls of your blood vessels.

To know if your fish oil is already rancid, you can do the following tips:

  • Take a good look at the gel inside the capsule. A rancid fish oil is usually cloudy.
  • Fish oil capsules should also feel firm. If you think the capsules are too soft or saggy, it’s better to get a fresh batch.
  • Open up a capsule and assess its smell. Fish oil naturally smells fishy (obviously) but they should not be too overwhelming.

So, How Do You Choose The Right Fish Oil Supplement?

1. Read labels

To stay on the safe side, look for fish oil supplements that have been tested by independent laboratories. It’s also good if you can find one with certifications and accreditation stickers or logos.

2. Choose dark colored bottles

Dark colored bottles help keep your supplements last longer by avoid spoiling. It prevents light from causing oxidation.

3. Know how much omega-3 fatty acid there is per serving

There are no strict recommendations of how much omega-3 fatty acids you need every day. Experts, however, suggest that you take around 250 to 500 mg of it daily.

4. Be conscious of the additional ingredients

Choose pure fish oil supplements as much as possible. Look for products that don’t contain additives like soy and nuts.


Does fish oil cause acne? I’d say yes, in some people and when taken wrongly.

Too much fish oil and omega 3 fatty acids have been linked to increased oxidative stress and one of its most common representations includes inflammation and acne.

However, when consumed in the right amount and with the right quality, fish oil supplements can be your skin’s best friend. It’s actually very helpful in treating stubborn hormone-induced acne, such as in people with PCOS.

You can increase your omega-3 fatty acids by eating fatty and oily fishes. But if you want a safer (and more taste-friendly) option, you can take fish oil supplements. 

To see the complete list of the sneakiest causes of acne, click here.

Hannah Do

Hannah is the founder of ThankYourSkin. Having personally battled acne during her younger years, she aspires to provide an invaluable guide to anyone suffering from it.

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